By: Matt Weik
BCAAs are still one of the most sought-after supplements right now with people across the nation mixing their intra-workout BCAA powder and walking out the door to head to the gym. What makes it so popular? Well, that’s exactly what I want to share with you in this article below.
The first thing we need to discuss is exactly what BCAAs are. BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids out there and three of them make up what we call BCAAs. To break it down even further, you have nine essential amino acids and of those nine, three are the BCAAs we are discussing.
BCAAs make up around 35% of all the essential amino acids that would be found in your muscles. The specific amino acids that make up BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Of those, the true powerhouse of the bunch is leucine. You generally tend to see BCAAs in a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine to isoleucine to valine.
You can find BCAA supplements in many forms such as pills, powders, and even ready-to-drink beverages. It ultimately comes down to what you feel comfortable using and what type of convenience you’re looking for (as well as flavor). The ideal time to utilize BCAAs would be pre and/or intra-workout but they can also be used post-workout or even between meals.
Now, let’s get into what you came here to find out… Below are the three ways BCAAs can help you with your recovery.
- Reduce Muscular Fatigue
When you walk into the gym to hit a workout, what is ultimately your limiting factor? Muscular fatigue, right? It happens to the best of us and it is the point where you hit the wall and your muscles raise the white flag in defeat. Well, what if there was something you could utilize to not only reduce muscular fatigue but also improve your recovery time? That’s where BCAAs come into play.
Research has found that individuals who supplement with BCAAs overall had a 7% lower perceived exertion during their workout as well as a 15% reduction in mental fatigueas well when compared to the placebo group. This should be music to your ears due to the fact that you have the ability to push yourself harder and longer than normal when you supplement with BCAAs and have them as part of your workout and supplement regimen.
- Minimize Muscle Soreness
After an intense workout, we generally can feel some sort of muscle soreness in 1-2 days following the workout in the muscle groups we broke down. This is most commonly called DOMS or delayed-onset muscle soreness. Think along the lines of a heavy leg day. Sure, following your workout your legs are tired and sore, but the real soreness starts to kick in over the next day or two. It causes you to sigh every time you see a flight of stairs you need to go up.
What exactly causes this felt soreness in the muscle that was worked? It’s due to microtears in the muscle fibers. The eccentric and concentric movements of an exercise are what causes the tears in the muscle fibers. After the muscle is torn down in such a way and you rest the muscle as well as provide it with nutrients, the muscle fibers have the ability to grow back bigger and stronger.
DOMS can last up to 72 hoursonce it sets in, so in an effort to minimize that soreness, many people supplement with BCAAs to reduce the severity and discomfort they may be feeling.
A study was conducted by researchers who looked at how supplementing with BCAAs prior to a squat workout affected delayed-onset muscle soreness. What it found was that the overall muscle damage done from the workout was less than that of the placebo group. There was also a higher plasma BCAA concentration found in the muscle for the BCAA group hours after the workout while the placebo group showed a decrease in their plasma BCAA concentrations nearly immediately following their workout.
- Prevent Muscle Breakdown and Wasting
One of the strongest arguments as to why you should consider adding BCAAs to your supplement regimen is due to its ability to help prevent muscle wasting and muscle breakdown. This generally happens when the muscle breakdown, itself, exceeds that of muscle protein synthesis (the ability to form new muscle). Now granted, muscle wasting isn’t just when you’re constantly breaking down the muscle fibers and failing to supply the nutrients needed for them to repair. There are also cases where individuals can have an illness or disease that causes such muscle wasting and atrophy to take place such as with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
I’m not saying you should be using BCAAs to treat diseases and illness (even though there is a study showing how effective BCAAs are for patients with cancer and preserving their lean muscle tissue), that should be left up to the protocol your doctor would like to put in place and what kind of treatment is needed. However, for those who exercise regularly, including BCAAs pre and/or intra-workout can help preserve your lean muscle mass. Some individuals even sip a BCAA mix throughout the day to help combat (or prevent) any type of muscle breakdown that may be occurring.
A study conducted in London found that supplementing with BCAAs reduced muscle protein breakdown and aided in muscle preservation. This can be advantageous for those who are both looking to put on quality lean muscle mass as well as those who could be dieting but want to preserve their hard-earned muscle mass.
Are you currently looking for a good BCAA supplement? Maybe this article provided you with some valuable information that helped you better understand the use and importance of BCAAs? If so, Apollon Nutrition Chainsawis one of the best BCAA supplements on the market. With the ability to maximize recovery, increase protein synthesis, and replenish lost electrolytes, you’re going to get everything you need in a delicious BCAA powder that can be used any time of day to suit your supplemental needs. With a 100% transparent label, you can feel comfortable knowing exactly what you’re putting in your body. Try Chainsaw today and feel an improvement in your recovery from the very first use.